How do I find new donors? 3 tips to successful prospect research

find new donorsEvery charity, large or small, wants to be able to find new donors to increase their income or diversify their supporter base.

It might be that you need to raise more funds for a special campaign or you know that there is a particular group you’re not reaching (such as sponsors or high net worth individuals). Or it might be that you want to make your funding base more sustainable by diversifying your income.

Whatever the reason, charities who want a sustainable fundraising programme SHOULD be continually seeking to add new prospects to their list and identify new sources of funding. Of course, this shouldn’t be to the detriment of your existing donors (remember it costs more to recruit a new donor than it does to get another gift from an existing donor).

But, taking into account that security and sustainability can be found with a broader funding base, how easy is it to add to your prospect list?


Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind.

Marston Bates

My top 3 tips to help you to find new donors are:


START WITH WHO YOU KNOW – who does your board know, what about your staff or partners? If you’re finding it difficult to get your board to engage in the whole prospect identification process, help them along by giving them your prospect list, encouraging their input and ideas.  I find that, rather than presenting lists at board meetings, you often get far more in terms of feedback and leads when you meet with board members individually.  So, while you should be reporting on research and prospect lists at every board meeting, make sure you follow up with board members individually between meetings too.


FIGURE OUT WHO KNOWS YOU – look at your local networks. Do you have a large trust on your doorstep or trustees living locally? Are there high net worth individuals who are your neighbours or companies who are based in your neighbourhood?  Think about the companies who recruit from your neighbourhood too (they might not always be based on your doorstep).  One way to find new donors for your non-profit is to look at the programmes of local cultural organisations – often wealthy individuals are donors to their local theatre or art gallery.  Look at other local charities too and find out who supports them.


CONSIDER YOUR DONORS – yep, existing donors are, of course, hopefully going to continue to be donors and are therefore, probably on your prospect list themselves but who do they know that they could introduce your charity to?  Consider this for both high net worth individuals – in which instance you want to have a face to face meeting to discuss a) if they’d be willing to introduce you to their networks and b) who they could introduce you to – and also the wider public. Who will share your status updates on social media? Or ask their friends to sponsor them in fundraising for your charity?


There are, of course, many ways to find new donors for your charity – and I’ve talked about how you can engage your board in more detail in this video about finding donors with your board.


And if you’d like to find out more, get Finding Donors on Kindle (remember you don’t need a Kindle but can download to your PC, Mac or phone) and start to make finding more donors a priority for your charity today!


Any tips you have to help charities to find new donors, please pop them in the comments below…


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